how to manage pain during labour
Dreading giving birth? Heard of too many horror stories about the pain? We spoke to Doula, Sasha Romary, who talks about how to manage pain during labour.
Mamas-to-be often fear the pain of labour, and rightfully so as most of our movies and TV shows depict childbirth with women screaming in uncontrollable pain! While childbirth will likely be the most physical pain many of us will ever experience, we can also overcome and manage that pain if we are given the tools to do so. If we go into childbirth confidently and with the proper skills, it can be an incredibly magical and empowering experience.
Contractions last approximately 60 seconds and we are given time in between each contraction to rest. The contractions can start mildly but will build up as labour progresses. Try to resist the urge to rush around, clean, etc. in early labour and rest as much as possible while you can. Once contractions get to the point where you can no longer lay down comfortably, you can start to get up and move around and use the skills below to help you manage and control your pain.
Our brain is only capable of focusing on one sensation at a time and it will always focus on the more dominant one. In order to gain control over the physical pain of birth, you can bombard your brain with pain-free sensations and, by focusing on these sensations instead of the pain of labour, you will be able to remain in control of the contractions and successfully manage your pain.
When we experience physical pain, the large muscle groups in our body receive instant surges of energy so that we may use them to help. Our largest muscle group in our bodies are our legs, which is why it can be incredibly useful to use them during labour.
Rhythmic moving like walking up and down stairs or pacing a hallway or even marching in place will help your body expel these surges of energy and help you focus on something other than the pain of the contractions.
Most women naturally start to moan and vocalise in labour naturally but by actively vocalising, you could actually help to manage your pain levels. The sound you want to aim for is the “ahh” sound as this allows for the least amount of tension in your mouth and jaw. Take a breath and on the exhale release your jaw and let out an “ahhhh.” The more pain you are experience the louder the sound should be and by concentrating on this instead of the pain, your contractions will become more manageable.
You can use your eyes to bombard your brain with information as well. Simply focusing your attention on a spot on the wall or the pattern on a carpet might be all you need to overcome the pain of a contraction. Another incredibly useful visualisation technique is counting. As soon as you feel a contraction coming on, start to count - either in your head or out loud. Keep it rhythmic and focus on each number. This can be paired with movement as well to help you get through the 60 seconds.
get your partner involved
While you are the one experiencing the contractions and birthing your baby, birth is not something that we are made to do on our own! Whether you will be birthing with your partner, a doula, a midwife or another family member, it is a team effort! Your birth team should help encourage you throughout the process. They should also be aware of your pain management techniques and can actively participate in the process by walking or marching, vocalising or counting through each contraction with you.
Sasha Romary launched The Modern Mama in 2016 to provide maternity and postpartum support to women worldwide. As a trained postpartum doula, Sasha uses evidence-based information and a practical approach to supporting new parents in preparing for the arrival of a new baby and in the early days of parenthood.
Follow her adventures at @_themodernmama